Rebecca Ronning on the Compelling Characters in “Gripped Part 2: Blindsided”

How has your opinion of Taylor changed from the beginning of the series until the end of book 2?

In the beginning of the series, it was much easier to see Taylor as somewhat of a failure. We lacked an in depth perspective from him in the beginning, and really only heard of him through his cousins and families accounts, which portrayed him as a struggling, distant, and overall unfortunate drug addict. At the end of book 2, however, we have a more well rounded vision of him. We see that he is truly wanting to change, and is more empathetic than we might have originally thought. This allows the reader to feel for him more, hoping the best for his recovery and escape from his messy situation.

How has your opinion of Chris changed since the beginning of the series?

Since the beginning of the series, I have begun to further understand Chris, and have been further exposed to the root causes of some of his actions (lack of presence with his parents, surrounded by the negative influence of his reckless cousins, etc.), which has given me some degree of sympathy for him as a character. This, however, is not enough for me personally to excuse all of his irresponsible actions involving drug abuse, and the bad influence that he has been on his friends.  

After reading books 1 & 2, are you rooting for Cathy to end up with Jason or Marc?

After reading books 1 & 2, I am hoping for Cathy to end up with Marc. A series of unfortunate events drove them apart, and it would be beneficial, for Cathy in particular, to give it a second chance. I believe that Jason is a bad influence on her, and though he may have kind intentions, the outcome of his actions lead to Cathy’s downfall.

What are you honest thoughts on Chris and Lisa’s relationship?

I think that Chris and Lisa’s relationship is interesting, and most likely not healthy for either of them. They seem to be very on and off, and neither one of them is allowing themselves to express their true feelings for each other in a productive way. I believe that this relationship is destined to leave one, or both parties hurt, and is typical of the immature, middle school “relationships” one may find at their own school.

Who are your two favorite characters so far in the series and why?

My two favorite characters in this series thus far are Jason and Taylor. Having read the earlier Montgomery Lake High series, I have come to really appreciate Jason’s character development, and see him as an inspirational person. He has come so far, and to see where he started has made me even more attached to him as a character. In these past two books, I have learned a great deal about Taylor, and think that he has the most interesting storyline so far. I enjoy reading about how he deals with his situation, and am excited to learn what happens next.


“What other drugs have you tried?” Lisa asked.

“Weed, mushrooms, ecstasy, mescaline, acid, Adderall, Xanax, Klonopin, and Vicodin, but this one is, by far, the best,” Chris replied without any hesitation.

Lisa widened her eyes. “Wow. You’ve tried a lot of stuff since we broke up.”

Fourteen-year-old Chris Dunkin is known for being the life of the party and everyone’s favorite friend. Despite his amicable nature, he carries around deep-seated pain from his childhood that he frequently numbs with alcohol and drugs.

After hosting a party, Chris wakes up with a strange vibe running through his body and no recollection of the previous night. When he learns the horrifying truth of what his night entailed, the trajectory of his life is changed forever.



Rebecca is a rising senior at Brooklyn Technical High School in Brooklyn, New York. As a city kid, some of her hobbies include riding the subway and exploring the city with friends, making all kinds of art, traveling with her family, and experiencing new and exciting things along the way. She would like to study business in college.


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Published by Author Stacy A. Padula

Stacy Padula has spent the last 14 years working daily with teenagers as a college counselor, mentor, and life coach. She was named "Top Inspirational Author of the Year" for 2022 by the International Association of Top Professionals (New York, NY). In 2021, she was broadcast on the famous Reuters Building in Times Square as "Empowered Woman of the Year." Her Gripped book series is currently being adapted for TV by Emmy-winning producer Mark Blutman. She is the founder and CEO of Briley & Baxter Publications: a publishing company that donates a portion of its proceeds to animal rescues each month. She has edited and published a variety of titles, including Boston Bruins Anthem Singer Todd Angilly and Rachel Goguen's The Adventures of Owen & the Anthem Singer, LaTonya Pinkard of Netflix's Last Chance U's Nate & His Magic Lion, and former NHL player Norm Beaudin's memoir The Original: Living Life Through Hockey. Stacy resides in Plymouth, Massachusetts with her husband Tim and two miniature dachshunds, Briley and Baxter.